Author: Kelly Gunderman
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Can you ever truly love someone who robbed you of everything?
Sixteen-year-old Claire Williams spends most of her days feeling angry and alone. After a car accident took her mother and Claire’s ability to walk, life in a wheelchair is the new normal.
When she’s sent to live with her grandmother, away from school and friends, Claire has a chance for a fresh start. Just when Claire thinks she can handle things, she runs into Todd – the son of the man who caused the car accident.
At first, Claire wants nothing to do with him, but the more time they spend together, the more she hates to admit her feelings. She’s slowly falling in love with Todd.
Now, Claire’s father wants to move and take Claire with him. But she can’t go. Not now when everything is falling into place, and she’s just now finding herself. Claire’s defiant. She won’t leave Greenwood, her new friends, her grandmother, or Todd.
Can Claire find the strength to let her dad go on with his life while leaving her behind to live hers, or will she allow the guilt and shame of surviving the accident pull her back under?
When I first started blogging, one of my first blogger friends was Kelly from Here’s to Happy Endings. When she mentioned she was publishing a book, I was excited to read it. Her book reviews are always so eloquent. I imagined the writing I enjoyed in them would transfer well to a book. Even so, I have to admit I was a little nervous before reading Finding Me since I personally know the author.
Claire is a sixteen year old who lost both the use of her legs and her mother in a car accident. She’s forced to change schools when her father dumps her on her grandmother’s doorstep. Starting a new school and making friends is hard enough without the added pressure of being around Todd, the son of the man who put Claire in a wheelchair and killed her mother. Claire’s just made friends and figured out that she might have more in common with Todd than she thought when her father reappears and wants her to move away with him. It’s all more than Claire thinks she can handle.
Claire’s story was emotionally packed. Her world had completely crumbled two years ago, and she was already having to rebuild it a second time since then. All of her relationships were changing. Some were in a good way, others in a bad one. Throughout everything, Claire had this quiet strength. She didn’t always hold it together, but she grew and fought for herself. She was a lot stronger that she thought she was. I loved the progression of her character.
I have to go back to that first comment I made about Claire’s story being emotionally packed. Finding Me was filled with emotion. Moments in Claire’s story brought tears to my eyes. I feel that it’s important to mention this because that doesn’t happen often. I was pleasantly surprised Kelly was able to do that with her first book.
As for the rest of the characters, they were perfect for this story. I loved Claire’s new friends Lisa, Mark, and Dillon. I also liked Todd and how he fit into the forgiveness aspect of Claire’s story. I adored Claire’s close relationship with her grandmother. I even found myself liking bubbly Sara. The only person I didn’t like was Claire’s dad. My dislike for him surprised me because his character was someone I didn’t expect.
The one thing that made me think a bit when reading this book was Claire being in a wheelchair. I had to remind myself that she had been in one for a couple of years now, so maybe some of the daily details of her life in the wheelchair wouldn’t be a big deal to her anymore. There were some mentions of the things that had to be accommodated for, but I guess I thought there would be more frustration or emotional reaction to them.
Finding Me was a great début novel. I was impressed with the writing. Sometimes the writing in a début novel can rely a lot on telling instead of showing, but that wasn’t the case here. It was as good as I was expecting it to be. There was plenty of dialog, the writing moved at a pace I liked, and I was completely pulled into Claire’s world. I can’t wait to see what Kelly writes next.